Saturday 24 February 2018

Ruairi Quinn: Plan to change means test for student grants 'not dead'

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has insisted that he has not given up on changing the means test for student grants.

It came after the Irish Independent revealed that he had shelved plans to include assets such as farmland and business premises in the means test for students due to start college this September.

Mr Quinn confirmed there would be no changes this September but insisted that Fine Gael backbenchers should not presume his plan was dead.

"I think some of them would like it to be dead and that certainly was the tone of the comment that I read in the Irish Independent. But the memo has not yet been brought to cabinet and when it comes to cabinet, we'll have a debate there on it," he told RTE's Morning Ireland.

Mr Quinn said that it had never been intended that the changes would come in this year. But he had previoiusly repeatedly told TDs in the the Dail that the changes in the means test would be implemented in 2013.

And specifically in October last year, Mr Quinn said in the Dail that the changes would apply for the "2013-2014" academic year - which is the year starting in September.

"First, whatever decision is made, it will not start to take effect until the academic year 2013-14. We have a bit of time, therefore, and I want to use that time to ensure we get a satisfactory report that sets out in a fair and proper manner to achieve what it is trying to achieve, which is to get a degree of equality in terms of the eligibility of students and their households to apply for support, taking into account all of the economic factors involved," he said then.

Meanwhile, the education minister led the "good luck" wishes to almost 117,000 students starting the Leaving and Junior Certificate exams today.

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